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Graduating seniors criticize the cost of graduation expenses

Seniors dismayed by pricey graduation fees, urge university aid or inclusion in tuition for support.

While graduates are prepared for some of the costs of graduating, they believe the university should include cap, gown and other expenses in the tuition fees. (Chandler Kinsey/The Hilltop)

As graduation approaches, some Howard University seniors are dismayed by graduation expenses and urge the university to support them or include the fees in tuition.

Students feel that the university should assist with graduation fees and cap and gown payments, or they should be included in tuition to lessen out-of-pocket expenses. 

Alex Broome, a graduating senior accounting major from Prince George’s County, Maryland, said that there should be more resources to support students, such as funding and better scholarship opportunities.

“There shouldn’t be a cost to graduation. The fact that Howard tries to nickel and dime us is quite sad, especially when our cost of attendance is almost pushing 60k a year,” Broome said. 

Broome also said he believed that the cost is inconsiderate, given that many graduates are stressing about their next step after undergraduate studies, including graduate school, paying rent for the first time and securing a stable job.

“I’ll be trying to get my CPA this summer. That’s $3,000 that I have to spend just to get the study materials. Then it’s almost $400 just to take the test. Those type[s] of fees, I have no problem paying because that’s for my major and professional development, but, just to be celebrated, paying $200 seems really unfair,” Broome said.

Many graduating seniors expected the cost of beauty maintenance like hair, makeup and outfits, as well as travel fees for family members who live out of state, but they were surprised by the fees and payments required from the university to walk across the stage.

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Graduating seniors have to pay for the graduation application, which is $100. Students are also expected to pay for the cap and gown, which will vary depending on the purchasing date but average around $125. Students who want to purchase their senior pictures taken by Legacy Studios, the university photo company, could pay up to $500 for some packages.

Jada Park, a graduating senior health education major from Memphis, Tennessee, said that with the reality of “adulting problems” soon approaching graduates, extra fees do not help. 

While students are getting ready to receive their diplomas and costs continue to pile up, they are finding ways to make things a little easier. 

Broome has decided to do her own makeup for all her graduation festivities and is commissioning friends who are discounting services during this time.

“Some students are willing to work with you if you want to pay like before [or]  pay in installments,” Broome said. “They’ll work with you for that. Many people who are taking photos this year are seniors… they understand because they’re going through it with us.”

A few of Broome’s family members are using travel vouchers they received from trip cancellations during 2020, while other students are waiting to celebrate their graduations until they go to their hometowns for the family members who could not travel to DC for the big weekend. 

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Daylon Daniel, a graduating senior biology major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, believes the university should help students with graduation fees to be considerate of family traveling from hundreds of miles away. 

“They’re adding hundreds of dollars to expenses when our families are already paying hundreds…some more, cause they’re coming from out of [the] country just to come see us graduate,” Daniel said.

Park proposed that these graduation fees should be added to tuition so students don’t have to worry about these expenses at the finish line. 

“This should have been a part of tuition. They don’t tell you what that $100 is going to, you just know you spent it to graduate,” Park said. ”It sounds like the university could incorporate this into our bill already, so we won’t have to worry about it. 

These graduating seniors urge underclassmen to prepare and save money for graduation, especially with fees constantly rising. 

“I didn’t know how much graduation was going to be until maybe a month ago. I was never really prepared before the process,” Park said. “You’re going to need at least about $800, and this is really contingent upon what you want to do.”

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Copy edited by Alana Matthew

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